Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Peter Pan Has Fallen

It is official. Our family has officially switched brands...

My family grew up in Chile where peanut butter simply didn't exist. My mother used to make the homemade stuff which was good, but you know.

Then my mom used to run a daycare center out of our house when we lived in Nebraska. The government would provide certain generic foods to be used to feed the kids - one of these was Peanut Butter. Maybe because of these sub-par peanut butter experiences, I grew up with choosier tastes.

Shortly after we arrived in Italy in 2000, I quickly realized that living here without peanut butter would be nigh impossible. We did find an occasional store that sold it, but it was small, Dutch and expensive.

That year, we began having people send or bring us Peter Pan Peanut Butter, the Creamy version. We have been a faithful Peter Pan family for the past 6 + years and I have even, on occasion, proposed to people that anything else was not edible.

About a month ago, Jen Hill came to visit us. (Jen works with Team Expansion and will be coaching our Pathways group this summer.) We asked her to bring us another gallon tub of Peter Pan since we were forced to throw our 2/3 eaten one out because of salmonella warnings. Well, when Jen went to buy one, the shelves were empty and she was 'forced' to buy Jif instead. When she arrived and gave it to us, I was grateful, but VERY skeptical.

Now, let me 'skip' ahead and tell you this. The tub is half gone and it is delicious. I've consulted with the rest of the family and we have officially deposed Peter Pan and placed the crown on Jif instead. (Harrison calls it all 'be-butter' and LOVES it.)

For all the years of disrespect, Jif, I beg your forgiveness. For the rest of you out there, maythis fear-of-salmonella-induced season of Peter-Panless shelves inspire you to take the plunge. You won't regret it.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Ode to THE Kebab

You're bad,
You're bad,
And I'm so glad.

So simple,
so wrong.
I can't help myself.
I join the throng.

Meat wrapped in bread,
With a kick or without,
Tell the man what you want,
Within minutes, open mouth.

First bite,
You heart will stop.
And then cry,
And then laugh,
Like it was meant to laugh.

Cous cous,
will pass.

But THE kebab,
rules them all.
Wrapped tightly,
Fries a-mixed,
Beef or chicken,
Who really knows?

Sweaty, maybe.
The baby emerges
From its depths,
Craves the mayo.

Kebab, I love you.
You break the mould,
Of spaghetti and ragu,
But your bad.

You're bad,
You're bad,
And I'm so glad.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Discipleship, Trust & Oikos

When Maurizio gave his life to Jesus a couple of weeks ago, I found myself with the (exciting) task of shifting from an evangelistic focus to a discpleship focus. We continue meeting once a week for lunch and it is during these encounters that we talk about his walk, we talk about what he's reading, questions that he's come up with (yesterday's was "Why are we considered Christ's friends, but not his brothers?") and obstacles he's going up against.

I have been so impressed; not with him, not with myself, but with God, and the changes I can see Him bringing about in Maurizio, literally, tangibly before my eyes. His mom has seen the change and is so happy - she has asked if she could visit our Life Group or host a Life Group dinner at her house. Maurizio has shared with his banker friend (who used to read his fortune using rune stones) his discovery about Christ. He shared with Jara (who up until recently was doing some form of 'energy' therapy on him) about his decision and invited her to Life Group. She came last Sunday with her fiance and left really encouraged/challenged. Last night, our Life Group gathered for dinner at Maurizio's house. She came with her fiance and she asked if they could come back this Sunday. Maurizio also invited a friend from his old 'New Age community' to come to the dinner last night - he's really something and I had the chance to challenge him to consider Jesus as more than who he currently thinks he is. Maurizio also shared with his cousin what Christ has done in his life and she is curious and wants to visit our Life Group.

I remember reading in a book on cell churches a few years ago about the Oikos factor. (Oikos is a greek word which can be translated as: house, household or family.) Basically, the author says that as you get to know people and build trust with them, you will inevitably be introduced into their oikos or 'circle of friends and family' and when that happens, we need to be sensitive to those who are searching. That is definitely happening with Maurizio.

The longer I'm here, the more I draw the conclusion that in this Italian culture, saturated with skepticism and suspicion toward anything non-Catholic, building trust is uber-important. We've seen it in small ways - in how people don't respond to publicity very much. Instead, when someone begins to trust us, they invite people that trust them and on and on it goes into this big network of trust. Lo and behold, we have a community of people that trust each other - although somewhat tenuous. So what happens when the first few people fall in love with Jesus and begin the process of becoming disciples? Do you see how it could have a ripple effect, sending waves all throughout the community?

As I'm typing this, I just got a text message from Maurizio. He is so excited and happy with how the dinner went last night. He said he was also excited that Jara seems so interested and desires to be integrated into our community. Maurizio gets it and he's living proof of the change that God longs to bring about in every one of us.

Last week after Life Group, Silvia, herself having given her life to Christ a couple of years ago, told Maurizio how proud of him she was for sharing with the people in his life. How neat to see that this 'newbie' in the faith is already finding his place and purpose in the Body!

Friday, March 2, 2007

Trouble with Candles

The other night, the weather was cold and cloudy and Heather decided to set a cozy mood and lit some candles on the TV armoire in the living room. They hadn't been lit in a while so we didn't think much of it when they let off some extra smoke and smelled a bit smoky. They burned for several hours, let off a little heat and were nice to look at. I blew them out and went to bed...

The next morning, I went into Haven's room to wake her and when I saw her nose, I hollered to Heather to come look. It was all black. So was Jacob's, and Harrison's and mine...you get the picture. I came out into the living room and raised the roll-down shutters to reveal a big, black, smoky stain on the wall and ceiling above the armoire. I looked around and noticed there was still a haze in the room. So, we blew our noses, cleaned up and Heather tried to clean the stain off the wall. Oops.

So, if the mood strikes you to light some candles tonight, think twice before using old ones...